The Washington Redskins’ defense has been criticized repeatedly during the 2012 NFL season. Time and time again, opposing receivers have had their way with a porous Redskins’ secondary. Washington’s stiffest challenge to date was supposed to be their Week Eleven NFC East divisional clash with the Philadelphia Eagles. Considering that Philadelphia features a pair of proven game-breaking wide receivers in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, it looked like another afternoon of defensive futility for the Redskins.
However, it was like the football gods shined their light on the Redskins on this day. Then again, facing a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start in Eagles quarterback Nick Foles helps matters tremendously. Washington forced three turnovers, including two interceptions recorded by the much maligned secondary. After that, the unexpected Washington rout was on, as the Redskins earned a key victory over the rival Eagles.
Aiding in the blowout was the return of safety Brandon Meriweather, arguably the most talented player in the Redskins’ secondary. The Eagles’ game marked Meriweather’s first action in 2012 due to an injured left knee. He responded with an interception that thwarted a Philadelphia drive. While Washington’s defense has been opportunistic throughout the season, Meriweather’s presence in the backfield gave the defense a swagger that had been missing throughout the season.
Unfortunately, Washington will have to continue the season without the services of Meriweather. He suffered a torn right ACL in his first game back against Philadelphia. The burden of patrolling the secondary falls on cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who recorded the first of Washington’s two interceptions of Foles on Sunday. He has proven to be all talk backed up by little performance this season, despite leading the team with three interceptions.
Can Washington’s defense duplicate their Philadelphia performance against the Dallas Cowboys? Or was their Philadelphia performance an aberration? In any event, they have only a few days to get ready for the Cowboys. If Washington can somehow get a consistent effort against a talented Dallas offense without Meriweather, it’ll go a long way in determining how they will finish the 2012 season.